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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Sun 07 Dec, 2008 5:19 am    Post subject: A tattoo based on the work of Albrech Dürer         Reply with quote

I've always been interested in art and self expression. Likewise, I've been intrigued in tattoos for the very reason that they are the ultimate form of self expression: permanent, personal, and pervasive. Intentional or not, a tattoo is a commitment to an idea and the willingness to share it with the world.

Since I was young, I've wanted to flex my need for self-expression and get tattooed. But until recently, I was never confident that I had lived enough life to make that commitment of putting ink to body. Now that I'm older with some of life's experiences behind me, I've embarked on the process of getting tattooed.

What I've done is used the work of Albrech Dürer's telling of the story of The Apocalypse as inspiration for the tattoo. Dürer's artwork is a set of 15 woodcuts depicting the revelations of St John and tell the story of the end of the world and the coming of the kingdom of God. The particular woodcut I chose as the basis of the first tattoo is that of Saint Michael fighting the Dragon:


Click to see full-sized version

This is what E.H. Gombrich says of this in The Story of Art:

"One of Dürer's first great works was a series of large woodcuts illustrating the Revelation of St John. It was an immediate success. The terrifying, visions of the horrors of doomsday, and of the signs and portents preceding it, had never before been visualized with such force and power. There is little doubt that Dürer's imagination, and the interest of the public, fed on the general discontent with the institutions of the Church which was rife in Germany towards the end of the Middle Ages, and was finally to break out in Luther's Reformation. To Dürer and his public, the weird visions of the apocalyptic events had acquired something like topical interest, for there were many who expected these prophecies to come true within their lifetime."

Revelation XII.7: And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, and prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.

"To represent this great moment, Dürer discarded all the traditional poses that had been used time and again to represent, with a show of elegance and ease, a hero's fight against a mortal enemy. Dürer's St Michael does not strike ally pose He is in deadly earnest. He uses both hands in a mighty effort to thrust his huge spear into the dragon's throat, and this powerful gesture dominates the whole scene. Round him there are the hosts of other warring angels fighting as swordsmen and archers against the fiendish monsters, whose fantastic appearance defies description. Beneath this celestial battlefield there lies a landscape untroubled and serene, with Dürer's famous monogram."


I didn't choose this artwork due to any religious significance. The many things that draw me to it are uniquely my own and are personal to me. To vaguely touch upon them, I will say say that the iconic image of the warring angels fighting against evil is something that strikes hard at me. The notion of stepping up and fighting the good fight is not unfamiliar to me and something I've always valued in others.

Dürer's woodcut is only the inspiration. I approached San Francisco-based artist Henry Lewis with the concept but wanted to have him do his own interpretation. We'd start with just Michael and the dragon. Later, we'll add the warring angels and complete the scene. What's resulted is a large piece that covers the outside of my upper right arm: about 14" x 11" of space.

Like the Dürer woodcut, I wanted to make sure that Michael is showing great intent with his fight. Unlike the woodcut, I wanted to ensure that the dragon's seven heads, which represent the seven deadly sins, to all be clearly visible. Each head of the dragon is different and conjures a unique beastly representation of evil being slain.

Here are some photos I took this evening:


Click photos for full-sized versions

This is how it looks in its current state. It's been only two and a half weeks since the color and so there is still some healing to be done. The photos show it with some of the roughness that's part of the healing process but they still give a good representation of the piece. The color palette chosen is similar to some of the classic pallets found in paintings such as the Fall of the Rebel Angels, 1554 by Franz Floris: muted, dark, warm, etc.

What is shown above is the result of three sittings. The first was the initial outline. The linework in this particular piece is extremely detailed. The subtle details aren't really visible in my photos. There was a short second sitting where I got the gray shading done as "under-color" to give the cloudy muted tones we wanted. The final sitting was the full color. Following each sitting, one has to wait for the healing to complete. This takes at the very last 3 weeks but could be 4-6 weeks if the same area is going to be gone over again.

Thank you for allowing me to share with you something that is quite literally a part of me now.
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William Goodwin




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PostPosted: Sun 07 Dec, 2008 5:33 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

That's awesome Nathan.....what a go for your first ink.

You know they can be addictive as swords don't ya'?

It was 10 year between my first and second, then only about 4 months until my third.



Congrats and can't wait to see the completed piece.

Cheers,

Bill

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"I was born for this" - Joan of Arc
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Bennison N




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PostPosted: Sun 07 Dec, 2008 5:34 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

That's a very nice tat, Nathan. And that was your first? That's a lot of work for a first tat...

The artist who has worked on you is very good, and you've looked after it well. I like that you've gone down towards the elbow far enough to show a bit when wearing a t-shirt. No point having them if they hide away all the time, right?

I love tats too... I'm running out of room on the arms, and my tummy as well, but I still have the whole back, chest and left leg with some space, so I'm just working the ideas around at the moment. I have a theme, so finding something that fits... I was thinking Mayan religious for the next one...

Looking VERY cool, Mr. Robinson! Be careful! Tattoos are addictive, y'know!

"Never give a sword to a man who can't dance" - Confucius

अजयखड्गधारी
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Allen Andrews




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PostPosted: Sun 07 Dec, 2008 6:01 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Amazing. I have always wanted a tattoo as well, but I never seem to have the financial commitment needed. Congratulations on your piece of art.
" I would not snare even an orc with a falsehood. "

Faramir son of Denethor

Words to live by. (Yes, I know he's not a real person)
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Jeremy V. Krause




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PostPosted: Sun 07 Dec, 2008 7:39 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

that's awesome Nathan!

And here I've always been embarrassed to seek some help in desgning a tatoo (mostly tribal) for myself.

Thanks for sharing,

Jeremy
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R D Moore




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PostPosted: Sun 07 Dec, 2008 10:37 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

That is a beautiful work of art, Nathan. I'm not a fan of tatooing, but the statement you're making with it is clear and beautiful. If I saw you on the beach somewhere I would recognize you as a brother, and (just as I'm doing now) would gaze in appreciation, understanding, and awe. Beautiful work. Stated with boldness and courage.
"No man is entitled to the blessings of freedom unless he be vigilant in its preservation" ...Gen. Douglas Macarthur
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Sun 07 Dec, 2008 1:30 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The permanency of tattoos has prevented me from getting one. I could never decide on a design that I'd be happy with for the rest of my life. If I did get one then something like Nathan's would be on my short list. Beautiful work.
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David Rowe




Location: Fairfax, VA
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PostPosted: Sun 07 Dec, 2008 2:58 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

That is simply awesome. For the last few years I've been interested in getting a tattoo, however, I've never been able to find/create something I was happy with. The permanency of a tattoo is what I find so intriguing about a tattoo; it is a form of expression on your body that is there until you die. That's both cool and scary. I long ago told myself that I cannot get one until I both decide on something that is both what I want, and also what I would want on me for the rest of my life. Once I fould that, I'm going to make myself wait at least a year and really think about it before I get it done.

Congrats on this truly beautiful tattoo! (I've always loved Dürer's woodcuts...)
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Adam Bodorics
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PostPosted: Sun 07 Dec, 2008 3:02 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Wow... I like it. I described it to my girlfriend, and she asked me to tell you that it was a very, VERY good idea. I was thinking about one based on Knight, Death etc., but damned financials stop me from having it made.

Tattoos are good. Big Grin
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Thomas Jason




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PostPosted: Sun 07 Dec, 2008 7:08 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Very Nice!

I've had 4 tattoos in the last 6 months myself...

Happy
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M. Eversberg II




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PostPosted: Sun 07 Dec, 2008 7:41 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I rather dislike tattoos but at least yours is somewhat original.

M.

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David Huggins




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PostPosted: Mon 08 Dec, 2008 8:37 am    Post subject: Tattoo         Reply with quote

Hi Nathan,

Nice inkwork, been tattooed myself ( germanic style art from archeological finds) I can appreciate your commitment..it's permanent and very personal.

best

Dave

and he who stands and sheds blood with us, shall be as a brother.
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Marcos Cantu





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PostPosted: Mon 08 Dec, 2008 10:20 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

thats really, really beautiful work.

one question though...why was the demon in the original changed to a dragon?
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Mon 08 Dec, 2008 10:58 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Wow! That's truly amazing work.
-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)
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F. Carl Holz




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PostPosted: Wed 10 Dec, 2008 5:38 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I got my first tattoo this summer, its a great feeling. Bennisin and Goodwin are right though, tattoos are addictive. I remember having to be talked down by my girlfriend after I got mine. Figure I'll hold off before getting anything else, still plenty of time. Ofcourse I still have to get the other half of this one anyways.

Any ways, yours is quite beautiful, congradulations!
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Wed 10 Dec, 2008 1:00 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

By coincidence, I just ran across this image in my files. I didn't record the details, unfortunately, but it's Austrian or German, late 15th or 16th c. I don't know if these are meant to be permanent tatoos, stigmata or what. Justice (i.e., torture/execution) is a prominent theme in the marks, but beyond that it's anybody's guess.


 Attachment: 147.57 KB
tatoo.gif


-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)
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Ben Sweet




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PostPosted: Wed 10 Dec, 2008 2:25 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

You'll have to bring that arm down to Morro Bay 09' so I can check out it's stunningness in person!
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Shamsi Modarai




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PostPosted: Wed 10 Dec, 2008 9:19 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Wow....I haven't posted or even lurked in ages and here I come in to find that Nathan has gotten an amazing tattoo!

I am normally against coloured tats, but that one is stunning! Happy

Wa biğ şam şe sceal of langoşe leofes abidan.

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Joey Young




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PostPosted: Sun 14 Dec, 2008 1:09 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nice tat, and it also brings to mind a question I have wanted to ask, what types of body markings (if any at all) were possibly historical in European cultures?
You know you've grown to be a man when you cease trying to prove it.
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David Huggins




Location: UK
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PostPosted: Sun 14 Dec, 2008 1:49 am    Post subject: Tattoo         Reply with quote

Hi Joey,

'Utzi the Iceman' has body tattooing apparent in several areas of the body, which may have shaministic ritual origin or though it has been postulated that these marking relate to underlying medical conditions and may have been applied for medico-magic purposes.

Several 'Sythian' bodies show some quite remarkable tattooing of very intricate zoomorphic patterns.

The Christians in Roman times are remarked to have had tattoos of fish and other Christian symbols, although in general society, criminals where tattooed, it may be as depicted in the 'Gladiator' movie that Roman soldiers where tattooed but I am not aware of any specific reference. There are specific period recipes mentioned by a Roman 'physician' for the pigments used in the tattooing process.

The British 'Celts' are said to have had body markings, but it is not clear if this is actual tattooing or woad body painting, for some reason it is the Picts who appear in the modern conscious who now seem to be associated with these body markings but if I recall correctly the Roman commentator (? caesar ) states body markings was also apparent in the tribes of the south of the British Isles.

The germanic Harii are said to 'painted' themselves black and where known for making night time attacks, wether the black 'painting' was for camo' or a ritual practice, perhaps of communion with the ancestors or a death cult is not entirely certain.

It is likely that the pagan Anglo- Saxons tattooed or perhaps scarified their bodies too, an early church edict berates the use of such 'heathen' practices as marking the body. It now seems a common myth that Harold Godwinsson was tattooed, this seems to have come about because it is mentioned in the 'histories' that he was identified by his mistress by 'certain marks on his body known only to her'!!

The Huns are likely to have used a scarification process to mark their faces.

The Russ and Norse are reported by Arab merchants and travellers to have been tattooed from their fingers to there necks.


The tatoo appears to have been associated by frowned upon by the Church Authorities, but tattooing becomes apparent again after contact with non european tattooed native cultures by seamen, adventurers and explorers.

Hope this helps answer your question a little.

Dave

and he who stands and sheds blood with us, shall be as a brother.
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